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Learning About Saving Energy When You Have a Chronic Condition


Everyday tasks can be tiring when you have COPD, heart failure, or another long-term (chronic) condition. You may feel at times that you've lost your ability to live your life. But learning to conserve, or save, your energy can help you be less tired.

Conserving your energy means finding ways of doing daily activities with as little effort as possible. With some small changes in the way you do things, you can get your tasks done more easily.

Some treatments are available that might help. Pulmonary rehabilitation can teach you ways to breathe easier. Cardiac rehabilitation can help make your heart stronger. You also may want to see an occupational or physiotherapist. The therapist can give you more tips on building strength and moving with less effort.

What can you do to conserve your energy?


  • Make a list of what you have to do every day. Group the tasks by location.
  • Do all the chores in one part of your house around the same time.
  • Go out for errands or do chores at the time of day when you have the most energy.
  • Plan rest periods into your day.

Getting things done

  • Sit down as often as you can when you get dressed, do chores, or cook.
  • Use a cart with wheels to roll items, such as laundry, from one room to another.
  • Push or slide boxes or other large items instead of lifting them.

Reaching and bending

  • Put things you use the most on shelves that are at the level of your waist or shoulder.
  • Use long-handled grabbers or other tools to reach items on a high shelf or to pick up things off the floor. Use long-handled dusters when you clean the house.
  • Use a raised toilet seat to avoid bending too far to sit or stand up.


  • Try eating small, frequent meals instead of three larger meals so your stomach is never too full. A full stomach can push on the muscle that helps you breathe (your diaphragm) and make it harder to breathe.
  • If you get too tired to eat much, try to choose healthy foods that have more calories. Have a yogurt-and-fruit smoothie for breakfast. Put avocado on a sandwich. Or add cheese or peanut butter to snacks.
  • If you don't feel very hungry, try to eat first and drink water or other fluids later, after a meal. This can help keep you from losing weight. Sip small amounts of fluids if you need to drink while you eat.

Having sex

  • Choose the time of day when you have more energy.
  • A side-by-side position for sex can be less tiring. Sometimes you may want to focus more on caressing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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